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Family Guidance Blog

Addiction Takes a Toll

Drugs can interfere with a person’s ability to think and act clearly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s a biological reason for this – compounds in drugs disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain, flooding the brain with the feel good chemical dopamine. Over time, the person using drugs has to have more and more in order to achieve the same high as before. This is because the brain adjusts to the in pouring of dopamine and stops producing as much naturally. Over time, drugs can cause permanent damage to the parts of the brain that control reasoning, judgment, and learning, challenging the user’s ability to think rationally.

Those who engage in drug use may partake in risky behaviors that further put their health and protection in jeopardy. Examples include having sex with numerous partners or not using protection, sharing needles with others, driving while high, or stealing from others to support one’s drug habit, which could result in incarceration. Mental Illness 1

A drug habit makes it hard to focus on the world outside of drugs. It may be difficult to hold down a job or go to school. Parents may neglect their children. Relationships with family and friends suffer and lack of income and stability could result in homelessness.

While the effect of drugs may be pleasurable initially, overtime, they take a toll on a person’s physical and psychological health. Drugs like amphetamines cause double vision, sweating, sleep problems, hypertension, and increased breathing and heart rate. Over time, a person may experience paranoia and loss of touch with reality. Street drugs like cocaine and heroin cause extreme cravings that could lead to overdose. Even household drugs like cough medicines, when abused, can cause nausea, hypertension, deliria, unconsciousness, and permanent brain injury. Breathing inhalants like glue and paint thinners is also extremely toxic and could result in death.

Breaking the cycle of drug abuse is a difficult feat to tackle on one’s own. It requires a strong commitment to getting better and oftentimes, the help of a professional. Family Guidance Center offers both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment services. To learn more, visit familyguidance.org.


Heroin Grips Rural America

Heroin 1In the quiet Midwest state of Missouri, the hard-core street drug, heroin, is not-so-quietly leaving its mark. While it may not be surprising to find heroin in bigger cities like St. Louis and Kansas City, more often than not, the drug is digging its claws into small town America. In Missouri alone, during the four year period from 2007 to 2011, the state saw heroin related deaths increase threefold, from 69 to 244.

Not long ago in rural Des Moines, Iowa authorities intercepted an 11 pound package of heroin along with a shipment of meth totaling three pounds. On the street, such a load would have commanded upwards of $1.3 million. The amount of heroin confiscated in Des Moines was 440 times higher than the entire amount of the drug reported in the town for the previous year.

Per information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nationally, figures for people who report using the drug have spiked in excess of 50 percent from 2002 and 2011. The rise in rural heroin use is believed to be driven by the stricter regulation of prescription drugs such as OxyContin, which are frequently abused and sold to others for misuse.

The illegal drug trade doesn’t just affect its users. It ruins families and can negatively impact surrounding communities as drug use is often deeply tied to violence and crime. While confronting the drug war may at times seem like a futile effort, united initiatives can produce promising results. Prescription medication take-back campaigns, increased prescription drug scrutiny, community prevention programs, and public drug education all can help discourage drug use.

Family Guidance Center has programs aimed at helping families work through the disease of addiction. Just as with physical illness, substance addiction requires professional guidance and a commitment to wellness. With expertise from Family Guidance, individuals can experience lasting recovery. Contact Family Guidance for more information about local inpatient and outpatient programs.

Three Tips to Overcoming Addiction in the Midst of Depression

Alcoholic 1Alcohol is often used to mask deeper emotions such as depression that people don’t wish to confront. For the person living with depression, avoiding alcohol can be particularly difficult because of the underlying emotional turmoil that fuels addiction. Entering into a joyous occasion such as a birthday celebration or holiday party can exacerbate feelings of depression and even serve as a catalyst for drinking as the affected individual struggles to understand why he or she can’t relate to others who always seem so happy.

Men and women diagnosed with depression may wonder if recovery from substance abuse disorders is even possible. The fact is there are treatments designed for those who are working through both issues. Medications can also help to regulate moods and minimize cravings.

Here are three tips for those living with both depression and dependency to ensure a successful recovery:

  • Keep away from people or situations that serve as triggers for drinking or depressive symptoms. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to take a rain check for every celebratory event. For these occasions, it’s important to take along an accountability partner and have a plan for the night’s agenda. For example, maybe the plan is only to stay for an hour, say hello, then exit before any drinks are served. If it’s early in the recovery process, such events may need to be avoided altogether until the person has regained some footing.
  • Reach out and build a strong support network. It’s critical to have people to talk to when feeling low or when reinforcement is needed. It helps to include other relatable individuals in this group who are also working through the same issues of depression and addiction.
  • Take ownership of the recovery process. Ultimately, no one is going to make a person get sober other than themselves. It’s important to realize that temptations will always exist, so it’s critical to learn the skill of self-control and know when to say no.

Family Guidance Center works with over 1,600 people every year to aid in their recovery. The symptoms of substance abuse and depression are manageable and treatable. The truth is, each year mental health affects about 25 percent of the adult population. Call Family Guidance Center today learn more about programs in your area.

Women: When Does Alcohol Consumption Become Problematic?

While most experts agree that having an occasional drink is nothing to worry about, some wonder how much is too much.  The answer to that question really depends on a number of factors. For most women, one drink a day isn’t considered harmful, with one drink defined by experts as no more than one 12 ounce can of beer or a five ounce tumbler of wine. Of course, some people metabolize alcohol better than others, so drinking up to two beverages a day doesn’t necessarily constitute the definition of an alcoholic.

According to addiction specialist, Nancy Jarrell of Arizona psychiatric hospital, Sierra Tucson, problematic drinking is more defined in terms of three factors – compulsion, control, and consequences. A woman whose regular routine often involves alcohol, who frequently drinks more than intended and who experiences negative outcomes from her drinking should seek professional help.

Regardless of how often a woman drinks, other signs of a problem include risky behaviors related to alcohol such as promiscuity and dangerous driving, constantly saying things that are inappropriate, passing out, or frequently waking up with a hangover. The litmus test for alcohol is really about the harmful consequences it bears on the individual’s life.

Some woman may be more predisposed to problematic drinking than others. While external factors such as a stressful work environment may come into play, favorable family attitudes toward drinking, a history of mental disorders, and being around friends who drink all can elevate a person’s risk.

Daily alcohol consumption has also been linked with an increased risk for breast cancer. Anyone from neighbors, friends, parents, and coworkers can be affected by substance abuse. Each year Family Guidance helps 1,600 members of the community with counseling and programs that are integral for lasting recovery. If you suspect someone you know is living with addiction, urge him or her to contact Family Guidance Center for an overall approach to wellness that works.

National Recovery Month Observed in September

September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate the gains made by those in addiction Recovery 1recovery and to educate the public regarding how treatment plans and mental health services are helping to transform people’s lives each day for the better. For 24 years now, Recovery Month has been a period set aside to honor the achievements in substance abuse recovery.

Created in 1989 and originally known as TreatmentWorks! Month, the observance was initially meant to commemorate the work of professionals in the field of addiction recovery. In 1998 the name changed to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month), and the observance grew to also honor the positive strides made by those individuals working through substance use disorders. Two years ago, the observance evolved again to incorporate all elements of behavioral health and is now celebrated as National Recovery Month (Recovery Month).

This year Recovery Month focuses on the elements of prevention as well as the many paths to treatment and recovery. Each of these together plays an important role helping to strengthen the potential for a rewarding and healthy life.

There are currently over 200 government organizations at all levels that have joined in partnership with various charitable organizations committed to furthering prevention as well as treatment and recovery services. Together they comprise the Planning Partners’ group which aids in awareness and the distribution of materials and promotional materials. These resources are then distributed to communities to help reach out to those in need.

Recovery from substance abuse can and does happen. Recovery Month helps spread the message that together we can make a positive impact on the lives of others by making programs for prevention, treatment, and recovery more accessible to the public.

Overcoming substance abuse and the process of recovery is not unlike managing chronic physical health problems such as diabetes or hypertension. For over 100 years Family Guidance has been working to eliminate stigma associated with substance use and other mental health disorders. To find out ways you can support your local community during Recovery Month, or if you know someone in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Family Guidance.